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Giving Riding Lessons And How To Legally Protect Myself?


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#1 ohio_cowgirl27

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Posted 12 January 2014 - 04:17 PM

I'm hoping some of you can help me out and give some worthy adivce here, I have quite a few different horses now, all different ages and levels of experience.  I would like to see all the horses being worked and thought about giving riding lessons for beginners, children or adults this summer. I am a member of the Certified Horsemanship Association and would love to become a certifed instructor in the future but I have to get some lessons under my belt before attempting that! A lot of people say be careful someone doesn't get hurt and sue you.  Can you make everyone sign a release form before riding to waive you from the responsibility if they get hurt.  I would definatley require anyone under the age of 18 to wear a helmet. Whats the ideal age group when your talking about giving children lessons?  We have no ponies, only full size horses. (paints/QH)



#2 FloridaHorseman

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Posted 12 January 2014 - 08:37 PM

Liability and personal injury laws vary from state to state. The only blanket advice I could give is at the very least incorporate or create a LLC to limit your exposure in a very litigious society. If you are really committed to starting a riding academy of any kind money would be well spent on a local attorney to craft protection that will hold up in your state. ~FH


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#3 ShamelessDQ

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 02:06 PM

You will need liability insurance. The insurance company will have some kind of minimum standard for waivers.

 

In most cases, they will require 100% of riders, including you, wear helmets. Watch out for stupid rules - our barn's insurance requires that all horses be ridden with a bit, which infuriates me - we have a couple that would go SO much better in a bitless bridle, but...



#4 TeachU2Ride

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Posted 19 January 2014 - 07:21 PM

First, do incorporate yourself as a business. It helps protect your personal assets *and* has tax advantages.

Second, buy professional liability insurance. Most companies that insure horses offer it.

Third, your state should have some sort of statute language you can post at your facility, to warn participants in your lesson program that riding horses is an inherently dangerous activity.

Fourth, have each and every rider (parents, if the rider is a minor) sign a professionally-written Release and Hold Harmless Agreement.

Fifth, do your level best to BE CAREFUL. Match the right horse with the right rider, be intelligent about what you ask/allow your riders to do in their lessons, supervise all activity around your horses, make sure your property is safe.

 

NONE of these things will prevent someone from taking legal action against you in the case of an accident. But the steps you take to prove you're a competent professional will help you defend yourself if it becomes necessary.

 

Yes, there are plenty of people who teach lessons who don't do any of these things. They are risking everything they own every time they let someone on their property.

If you research the costs of the above suggestions and decide it's not worth it, you may want to look into leasing (or part-leasing) some of your horses as a way to get them more exercise. In that case, you will still want to require safety headgear, post your state's equine statutes and have your lessees sign a Release/Hold Harmless. And you will especially want to make sure you match up appropriate skill levels for the horses. But if you're not teaching, you reduce your liability considerably.


Edited by TeachU2Ride, 19 January 2014 - 07:21 PM.


#5 Rod

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Posted 20 January 2014 - 12:23 AM

All of this is good advice. Just a note on insurance. It is quite costly to buy a liability policy for a horse facility. However, I was able to add a rider to my ranch liability policy for a lot less. The rider only cost me a couple hundred, a stand alone policy was going to be several thousand. Coverage was the same on both.



#6 dondie

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Posted 14 February 2014 - 05:49 PM

If you belong to a Grange or another Farming or Ranching organization they often offer discounted insurance that gives you the ability to add things like extra coverage for lessons or having people on your place that could be injured by your horses or livestock.

 

A friend of mine had an attorney in Nevada incorporate her business to limit her liability. It cost five times less than it would in California.


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